The Chicago Fire are clinging to the Eastern Conference’s final
playoff spot despite their struggles away from home.
That lack of success on the road may not bode well against the
Philadelphia Union, who haven’t lost an MLS match at home in nearly
Philadelphia looks to extend its franchise-record home winning
streak in league play to five when it meets Chicago on Sunday
The Fire (10-7-5) are coming off a 2-1 home win over Toronto
last Saturday, marking their fourth victory after allowing the
game’s first goal – tied for the most in MLS with San Jose.
Defender Austin Berry scored the winner in the 84th minute on a
header off an assist from Pavel Pardo.
“I thought we started strong against Toronto and we just have to
have that same kind of energy, especially playing against Philly,”
Berry said. “Their crowd’s going to get behind them and energize
them, so we have to match their intensity.”
The Union (7-11-2) have won a club-record four consecutive MLS
matches at home since falling to D.C. on June 16. They had been
1-4-1 in Philadelphia before that streak.
Chicago has lost both of its previous trips there and is 1-4-2
over its past seven road matches. However, the Fire’s most recent
game before last Saturday’s win came a week earlier in San Jose –
which entered this weekend with the league’s best record – and they
came away with a 1-1 tie.
“When you play away it’s a different kind of match, but we’re
ready to go,” said Marco Pappa, who scored his team-leading sixth
goal last Saturday. “I hope we can get the three points because it
will be a good position for the team, and the important thing is we
are getting confidence from the last couple matches. I hope we can
keep it up.”
Pappa had an assist in Chicago’s 1-0 home win over Philadelphia
on March 24, though that contest came before interim Union coach
John Hackworth took over for the fired Peter Nowak.
Philadelphia fell 2-0 at Montreal last Saturday and now must try
to bounce back without Jack McInerney. The forward will serve a
one-game suspension for coming to the aide of teammate Antoine
Hoppenot after he was head-butted in the nose.
“Jack’s been so important to our run of form recently and not
having him is a big loss,” Hackworth said. “He’s been in the lineup
consistently and executed when we needed him to. His work ethic off
the ball has been fantastic. We have to replace all those
Hoppenot suffered a fracture on the play that resulted in a
three-game suspension for Montreal defender Nelson Rivas, but he
should be ready to play against Chicago.
“The fracture Antoine has it is not a typical broken nose,”
Hackworth said. “It’s more on the side of his nose from what I
understand from the medical staff. He went through full training
and we hope he’s fine. Our feeling right now is he’ll be OK.”